Owen Phillips made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the ocean, notably through the diverse research topics incorporated in his monograph The dynamics of the upper ocean. He also contributed significantly to the understanding of geological processes in books on subsurface flows and reactions in permeable rocks. Owen was born and attended school and university in Sydney, Australia, winning scholarships to Cambridge in 1952 to do his PhD under the supervision of George Batchelor (FRS 1957). In 1957 he moved to the USA to join the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, returning to Cambridge four years later as Assistant Director of Research in the new Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. In 1964 Owen returned to Johns Hopkins, where he stayed until retirement in 1998: first as Professor of Geophysical Mechanics and later as Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, a department that he subsequently chaired.
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